After a quick recovery from overnight travel, we jumped right into preparations for the arrival of our dear Holocaust friends. Cleaning, preparing bed linens and welcome cards, and lots of other things to be ready to welcome them from Israel. We each had some special tasks.
Ben worked hard today helping the team from Savannah constructing new beds for the camp. Anna and I decided we really wanted to make the prayer room a priority for this camp as well as other camps for the summer. After all, nothing that goes on here is of human doing – It’s all God working in the hearts and minds of those who He brings to this place. So prayer should be our most important activity. We arranged furniture, hung Scripture cards, Anna made decorative paper flowers, and we set out Bibles and a journal. The journal has the names of each person attending and leading this camp, so we can pray over them by name and journal specific needs and thoughts as we get to know our new friends. Several took turns in the room today, including Anna! 🙂
Another project was preparing a small gift for the Holocaust Survivors. In past years I have made beaded bracelets for them like the ones I sell as a fund-raiser. But I wanted to do something different this year. So I made a lanyard to hold their name tags, symbolic of our time together. The red ribbon represents Poland, and there is a Star of David charm for Israel, and an American flag heart to represent love from the American team. Sadly, I never came up with a good way to represent the Ukrainian interpreters that are the bridge that brings us together.
So after two days of preparations, we waited with anticipating for their arrival. There was much excitement and “Shalom” greetings with a warm embrace and a kiss. It was great to see some familiar faces and welcome many new visitors. In catching up with Haim and Geula whom you may recall if you’ve been following this blog over the years, I was thrilled to learn that Geula recently became a Christian! (If you’ve followed this blog through all of our journeys, you recall that last year I learned of Haim’s baptism after his first experience here in Ostroda.) Please praise God with me and pray for them as they learn what it means to be both a Jew and a follower of Christ!
We had our first meal together and a short session of introductions. Now it’s off to bed for everyone to rest from their journey and work. Tomorrow is our first full day to get to know each other and poor some love into these dear people. Please pray for us to see the opportunities and know the right words and actions that will open their hearts to the message of Jesus.
This last week has included some further discussions about our upcoming trip to Poland and some action steps towards preparing for the journey. It also brings some specific things that we’d like to ask you to be praying about.
First, we exchanged some e-mails with David Hatfield about the possible dates and our concerns about some of the travel details – specifically navigating Warsaw and getting to Ostróda with the children! From these communications, we’d like to ask you to pray that God will give us direction about how he wants to use us for His plan while we are there. There are some opportunities to serve that would require a longer stay than we originally planned. On one hand, we have the children with us and the time off work – why not stay longer? On the other hand, it is a long time away from home and other summer activities. Please just pray that God will help us to hear his voice and follow his leading. Another component is that one way we could serve might mean being away from Camp Ostróda for the last few days of the Holocaust Survivors camp, but would allow us to become familiar with some other aspects of the ministry and churches in Poland. Since Ben is now on the board of Polish Christian Ministries, we are feeling pulled toward this even though the Holocaust camp was our original draw to this ministry.
The second thing we need your prayers for is our fund raising. Taking a family of four across the ocean is unbelievably expensive. Sadly, the airlines do not discount for flights that lead to expansion of the Kingdom of God. I think they should, but they don’t listen to me. We have been saving and have calculated what we can save between now and our trip. Everything is based on estimates, but we think that we can cover all the trip expenses (ground transportation, food, lodging, administrative costs, passports, etc.) except for the air fare…. but this expense will be significant. We are very grateful for the financial supports we’ve received so far, but we are a long way from meeting our need. We know that money matters are small obstacles to God and He has always faithfully provided, but it is hard not to worry about this aspect. Please pray that we will cast this anxiety on Him and that he will speak to the hearts of those who are able to help.
Finally, we ask that you pray for wisdom as we prepare our children for this trip. We want them to understand why we are doing this and what their role is. We also know that they need to have a little understanding of the history of this country, but we need to give them only what they can handle at their young age. Please ask God to give us the words to help them know what they need to know, but protect them from that which is too heavy for them to carry.
Thank you for caring enough to read this post and for your prayers as we begin making bigger strides toward spreading God’s Word to the people of Poland. Thank you to Michael Frame at CVS for taking Anna and Ethan’s passport photos. Next step… applications to the post office!